- - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Barack Obama has gone from the candidate for hope and change to the president of divisiveness and scare tactics. Consumed with his second-term liberal agenda, Mr. Obama exploits the deaths of innocent people to push for more gun control.

Just as he did at the prayer vigil two days after the horrific Newtown, Conn., school shootings last December, the president used the memorial service for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard tragedy to drive support to restrict Second Amendment rights.

Mr. Obama railed about politics for more than half of his remarks at the Sunday service for the 12 innocent people killed last week. He said the mass shooting by an apparently psychotic schizophrenic who claimed to hear alien voices should “obsess us” and “lead to some sort of transformation.”

Mr. Obama has never believed in American exceptionalism, but he outright trashed our nation. He said that the United States is not as good as other developed nations because of our crime rates. He claimed that after the total bans on firearms in the United Kingdom and Australia, “mass shootings became a great rarity.”

Had Mr. Obama wanted to act presidential and not like a cable news anchor, he would have said that mass shootings are a great rarity here already. According to the Congressional Research Service, mass shootings account for an average of 18 lives a year in this country. These events have neither increased nor decreased in the past 30 years.

But reassuring the public of their safety is not part of this commander in chief’s style. Instead, he said that “what’s different in America is it’s easy to get your hands on a gun.” He’s right; it is. That is why our Founding Fathers affirmed that God gave us the right to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves. It is a shame that the military personnel based at the Navy Yard that day were disarmed.

Every year, the FBI releases the national crime statistics for the whole country in the form of the Uniform Crime Report, which it did again last week. Not once has the president remarked on these numbers. Neither has New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The liberal media pretend the statistics are written in invisible ink.

Why the blackout? Because all violent crime — including gun homicide — has gone down over the last 20 years. The gun murder rate has gone from 6.62 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1993 to 3.27 in 2012, a decline of more than 50 percent.

Americans are safer, but Mr. Obama told the grieving families of the Washington Navy Yard victims that we need to do something about “reducing the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem on a regular basis.”

By this, he means passing more gun-control laws. He went so far as to claim Saturday at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Dinner, “There are those who fight to make it as easy as possible for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.”

That is rhetoric meant to divide Americans. No one wants criminals and the mentally ill to have guns. The reason gun owners exercise their Second Amendment rights is to defend themselves from bad guys with guns.

Mr. Obama swore that he would see gun control passed before the end of his term. As even Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week that the votes still aren’t there, Mr. Obama is banking on Mr. Bloomberg to keep spending millions of dollars to force senators to change their votes. However, Americans are starting to wise up to their schemes.

According to a Gallup poll Friday, fewer people blame easy access to guns as the cause for mass shootings than did just two years ago. Also, 48 percent of the public points to the failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are a danger to others as the primary cause.

The facts are that the Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, legally bought a shotgun after passing both the federal and Virginia state background checks. The only thing that could have stopped him was locking him in a mental hospital, but that doesn’t fit Mr. Obama’s agenda.

The president of the United States should speak at memorial services as a comforting presence to the grieving families, a uniting figure to the public and a reassuring voice to the country.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama views these rare mass shootings as opportunities to attack. That’s why we have to defend our Second Amendment rights in the face of a political attack not seen in a generation.

Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).